Thursday, June 11, 2009

Day 16-- DETOUR! (or Raingear On/Raingear Off)

We had no service yesterday so first I will post for yesterday.
We started out in a bit of rain, so we put our raingear on. Since we were climbng toward Chinook Pass, I was quickly too hot so I took off the rainpants and the long pants I had on underneath (not naked here--still had my bike capris on). I also switched to my fingerless gloves. After 7.5 miles of climbing we reached Chinook Pass. There was still about 10 feet of snow (the roads were clear). Remembering the lessons learned from Blewett (freezing cold coming down), I put my long pants, rainpants, polar fleece shirt, rain jacket, long finger gloves and polar buff on. I was NOT going to be cold coming down the pass! We took pictures at the Pass then started the long ride downnnnnnnn. It had taken us 2 hours to go 7.5 miles. It took 20 minutes to go from Chinook Pass to Cayuse Pass ( about 4 miles)! I even stopped to take a couple of pictures along the way! We took another picture at Cayuse then went the rest of the way down to Stevens Canyon Rd. where we were to turn to head back up to go to Paradise. As we turn the corner onto Stevens Canyon Rd. we see the sign that says, "Stevens Canyon Rd. CLOSED". Remember what I said about Closed Roads (see post "Observations After 7 Days on the Road")? NOT GOOD!!! It also appears that Skate Creek Road is closed too. That means we have to detour through Packwood and Morton all the way to Elbe to get back on the route! That is alot of miles! So, what do we do? We eat lunch of course! Then we head to Packwood. I figure if Skate Creek is really closed, we will just get as far as we can that night and find a place to camp then go the rest of the way to home the last day. Packwood is 13 miles from Stevens Canyon and mostly downhill so we make good time. At the Shell station on the corner of US 12 and Skate Creek Rd. I ask the clerk if Skate Creek is open. She says they took the closed sign down at 11:00AM that morning! She also said no one has come back to say the road is not open. We celebrate with ice cream sandwiches then head on up Skate Creek. Since our planned campground is on Skate Creek Rd., this detour makes our day shorter rather than longer!
The sun is shining so we remove our remaining raingear. I put my red jacket on, but soon I am too hot for that so I take it off also. We see a sign that says 20 miles to Big Creek Campground. As we are climbing, the road is smooth and very little traffic (hmmmm...I bet we are the first bikes since the road closed for the winter!). After awhile, we notice we are heading toward some dark clouds. Sure enough, it starts to rain. Back on goes the raingear. I hate wearing raingear while climbing! It is like exercising in a sauna! The climb continued as did the rain. We finally reached the top (about 13 miles). Not only did the rain not stop, but there was thunder and lightening too! We finally made it to Big Creek, found a spot and quickly set up the tent (we should be pretty good at that by now!). We decided to go ahead and cook dinner while we were still in our raingear rather than changing and having to put wet raingear back on over dry clothes. After dinner it was off to the potty shacks/changing rooms to get out of the wet stuff. It was a little tight, but at least it was dry. Then we retired to the tent to spend our last night.

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